Confession. It’s been nine months since my last blog entry. And before I get to a recipe I’ve found for getting awesomeness back, there’s a bit of a back story. Last fall, I worked to heal a minor tweak in my back, and it took some time to get my rock climbing mojo back. At the same time, a big work project consumed most of my creative juices.
Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park
In April, I got my climbing groove back on in Joshua Tree National Park, thanks to Matt Walker and Inner Passage. That story will soon become a back story blog entry. In June, I had a surprise ambush date to Munich, courtesy of the Best Boyfriend in the World. That also deserves a back story blog entry – it’s a totally fun story to tell! All of the awesomeness couldn’t compete with this nagging problem – I had neglected my passion project. I had given into resistance, I was losing the inspiration I had received last summer from the Management Innovation Exchange and World Domination Summit. Heck, I felt like I was even letting Kid President down after he gave us all such a wonderful Pep Talk. I had yet to advance my plans to make the world more awesome, and the resulting lack of personal integrity meant enthusiasm gained in Joshua Tree and Munich had a slow, persistent leak.
Luckily, the universe does conspire. Continue reading
When I came up with the framework for What Makes You Come Alive, I was looking forward to an autumn filled with rock climbing and connecting with old friends. And then…my back, which had been sore for the entire summer, got worse. I stopped climbing, and tried a light jog. Only to wake up the next morning with sharp jabbing back pain as I tried to put on my pants. The diagnosis – a torn muscle. Not horrible or completely debilitating. But I’m out of rock climbing for six weeks, my three-day weekend road-trip became impossible, and work started picking up. Without my outlet for creative mind-body expression, without my social circle of friends from climbing, with pain in my back, with fatigue from several busy work-weeks in a row, I feel old and tired. Not alive. But cranky.
I found a kindred spirit in innovation writer Scott Berkun, when he wrote about what he learned from losing a leg (for a while), while recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon:
My mind follows my body. I’m a productive writer because I have a healthy body. I go to the gym nearly every day to clear my mind and let my subconscious work on problems for me. I haven’t been to the gym in almost a month. I’m still struggling to find a new way to balance stress and find physical relaxation.
Mine is broken. This connection is broken.
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, posted a question on Facebook this weekend “Agree or disagree? ‘September is the other January.'” Having spent Labor Day weekend in somewhat of a sabbatical mode, I couldn’t agree more. Even though summer doesn’t technically end until the autumnal equinox on September 22nd, I’ve prepared myself for the start of a new season by saying goodbye to the summer ales and sundresses, cleaning house, assessing old projects, and teeing up some new ones. With the year being 2/3 over, it brings me back to the question asked in January in the post New Year’s Day; Renewable Enthusiasm Day: Are you living? Or are you merely growing old? How are you doing so far with that whole “living” thing?
What is really living, anyway? What makes you come alive? What if someone, (oh…say, me?) challenged you to choose your own adventure to find out exactly that?
I loved those Choose Your Own Adventure books. Growing up, my girlfriend and I would act out these adventures across the large farm where her dad lived and worked.
Adventure was easy as a kid…
A view of Bear Butte from the south. It gets its name from its resemblance to the form of a slumbering bear.
In early July, I visited my Mom and step-dad in South Dakota, where they spent this summer volunteering at Bear Butte State Park. Bear Butte and its staff left quite an impression on me.
As someone who has been pondering passion – how to find, follow, live, and sustain it – I came away from Bear Butte with the understanding that following a passion and sustaining it is difficult, sweaty, hard physical work mixed in with a lot of emotional labor. Most importantly, the staff at Bear Butte are not the ones calling what they do “following their passion,” or pontificating about whether or not they’re living the passionate life, whether or not they’ve found the thing they’re on this earth to do. More often than not, there are people out there, like the staff at Bear Butte State park, just doing the hard work under less than optimal circumstances, because the works needs to be done. Continue reading
In the past month, I attended two conferences that have had a profound effect on me – so much so that I’ve spent reams of paper mind mapping my notes, trying to make sense of the shift that’s happening in my brain, in my psyche, my outlook. At the MIXMashup In San Francisco at the end of June, I heard Gary Hamel tell us that the 100 year old technology that is management is broken and we haven’t either been aspirational enough or angry enough to fix it. I have often bemoaned that organizations “suck the life blood out of you,” and here is a group of people saying, “nope – it doesn’t have to be that way, and we’ll show you how.” Their case studies are written up here: http://www.managementexchange.com/.
In Portland at the beginning of July, I attended the World Domination Summit, organized by Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity and the $100 Start-up, who asked the 1000 attendees, “How do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?” One way is to become a micro-entrepreneur. Pamela Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation, said that what the entrepreneurs in Chris’s $100 Startup book had in common was that they have something great to offer to others, they have a website that depicts this clearly, they have a means of accepting payment, they believe in themselves, and they’re not waiting for anyone to fix our economic problems….or, I’ll add, our organizations. Continue reading
“Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves…it can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
At the beginning of the year, I began to explore the topic of resistance. And since I found a name for this little gremlin, it’s been fairly relentless in its efforts to muck up my mojo and creativity, despite my attempts to go with the flow. I’ve embarked upon a number of creative pursuits, such as my improv theater class. I thought that practicing saying “yes…!” to scenes for eight weeks would help root out resistance. It worked. For a bit. Then class was over….and the many blog entries in my head about the experience failed to write themselves. Continue reading
Our organizations – private sector, academia, non-profits, public sector – are in trouble. Tomorrow, I will attend a conference that’s dedicated to rewriting the design rules of the organization, with the goal of creating:
…organizations that are resilient enough to change as fast as the world is changing, inventive enough to imagine a whole new way to create value, inspiring enough to invite the full passion, imagination, and initiative of the broadest mix of people, and mindful enough to find a way to win without others having to lose.
It’s exciting stuff. I’m interested in finding, following, living, and sustain my passion. It’s a topic that’s confoundingly easy to learn about and often difficult to execute given the state of the world. To find a group of people dedicated to making organizations a welcoming place for passion and imagination? I must be dreaming. But before I tell you about the MixMashup in San Francisco, a back story.
In the days leading up to my birthday last week, there was definitely an aura of funk in the air. That kind of funk born of the frustration that I mentioned in an earlier post that is so hazardous. Am I moving in the right direction? Am I doing the right things? Why can’t I get this blog going? Why can’t I seem to [insert measure of success here]? Seeds from an earlier blog entry “I have enough; I do enough; I am enough” lay like dust in my fallow blog.
The funk was so palpable, that a friend asked me if I had read The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. “Yes,” I immediately answered. Upon further discussion, I revealed that by “yes,” I had meant that I had read a few of Gretchen’s blog entries, but never the actual book. This scene unfolded much like it had the last time she asked me if I had read it, which explains the audible sigh and appearance of the book, as a gift, on my Kindle.
I’m feeling very sheepish because it’s been almost a month since my last post. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about. I have at least 70 different ideas for blog posts that are just dying to get out. It’s just that…well…my life has been so – awesome – in the past few weeks that I haven’t had a moment to write. I’m not bragging – I’m owning it, baby. I’ve had my fair share of suck, so this glory? It too, is all mine.
Today isn’t much different from the past couple of weeks, so let’s get right to the point. March 10 is The International Day of Awesomeness. What’s awesome about this is that the mere fact of someone having posted this on the web, and others continuing to validate this the fact on Twitter makes it true. You can’t say this about many things in life, so embrace this Internet truth happily and care free.
How do you celebrate? By being awesome. Not by being perfect. Two totally different things. The day’s motto is “No one’s perfect, but everyone can be awesome.”
You can declare yourself awesome, but it’s also nice to have that validation, like a colleague of mine did with a simple sheet of paper and a sharpie.
Best. Award. Ever.
If you’re concerned that you might not be awesome – Ha! Of course you are. Sometimes, it just takes practice.
Are you stuck and don’t know where to start? Practice by validating someone else’s awesomeness with a sheet of paper and a sharpie. Practice telling yourself that you’re awesome. This day is 100% made up, so start by pretending. (Sitting around in my jammies with the cats and a cup of coffee at 10am = awesome.) Then move to improvising. (Don’t have time for a blog post? Make one up on the fly = awesome.) See? Now you’re practicing!
I’ve got places to go, things to do, people’s awesomeness to affirm, so I’ll leave you with my favorite manifesto, and a plea for your comments to this blog on how you’ve celebrated this International Day of Awesomeness.
Yesterday, I answered the call to transform Valentine’s Day into Generosity Day. I decided to hand out quotable cards and magnets to random strangers on my commute to work. I wrote inside the cards and on the envelopes “Happy Valentine’s Day – Share the Love!” and then used the envelopes for the magnets. Armed with my small bit of generosity booty, I left for work. Operation Generosity had begun.
It was a lot more difficult than I expected.